SUNY Distinguished Professor
Cytoskeleton and cell motility; Molecular and Cellular Biology; Molecular Basis of Disease; Neurobiology; Neurodegenerative disorders; Neuropharmacology; Pathophysiology; Signal Transduction
Synaptic and Epigenetic Mechanisms of Mental Health and Disorders
Our research goal is to understand the synaptic action of various neuromodulators that are linked to mental health and illnesses, including disease susceptibility genes, stress hormones, and monoamines. Specifically, we try to understand how these neuromodulators regulate glutamatergic and GABAergic transmission in prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is important for emotional and cognitive control under normal conditions. We also try to understand how the aberrant action of neuromodulators under pathological conditions leads to dysregulation of synaptic transmission in PFC, which is commonly implicated in brain disorders. Recently, we are focusing on investigating how epigenetic abnormality caused by genetic and environmental factors results in pathological gene alterations, leading to synaptic dysfunction and behavioral deficits related to autism, stress-associated psychiatric disorders and Alzheimer's disease.
Multidisciplinary approaches are integrated in our studies, which include:
• whole-cell patch-clamp recordings of synaptic currents in brain slices,
• multichannel recordings of neuronal spikes in anesthetized or free-moving animals,
• viral-based in vivo gene transfer,
• biochemical and immunocytochemical detection of synaptic or nuclear proteins,
• transcriptomic and molecular analysis of genetic and epigenetic alterations,
• chemogenetic and optogenetic manipulation of neuronal circuits,
• behavioral assays of cognitive, social and emotional processes.